Living Woman Walking

It became a joke between us.  On a regular basis, when we were commuting up to 2.5 hours a day, I would exclaim: "Wow, look at that, they tore that old barn down." or "Look at that huge new development. That really came out of nowhere!"

My husband would jokingly respond, "Yes, dear.  They tore down that barn 1 year ago at least." or "Yes, they've been building that strip mall for 6 months."

My observation skills when I was commuting were exceptionally dull.  Months and years would go by of me driving day in and day out and I would not see major (never mind minor) changes in our neighbourhood and community.

Finally, after 7 years, we were lucky enough to be able to make the decision to move to the city so we wouldn't have to commute.  Right away, I noticed a difference.  Even though we still used the car a fair amount, at least at first, we are able to walk most places.  It was like I got new glasses.  My observation skills sharpened in a way only walking up and down the same street day after day can do.

Occasionally, I'll have a spell of driving a lot.  I got the use of a car for several weeks in the spring, and its funny but, as convenient as it was, it was a relief to return it.  I could feel myself spacing out more and more when I drove places.  My patience with the kids got frayed a lot more easily when I regularly drove probably because I  also tried cramming a lot more into my days thinking that a car would be the magic ingredient to make it all happen smoothly.   I also found myself moving from enclosed space (house) to enclosed space (car/work) really limited the amount of time and desire I had to be outside.

Lately, I've been avoiding the car as much as I can mostly because I finally decided that the only way I can predictably fit exercise into my day is by walking places. Initially, I resisted because it took longer or it was wet. But slowly but surely, I adjusted myself, so I left earlier, reducing the time constraints.  Also, it dawned on me that I just need a better raincoat.

The other day, I heard this great radio documentary about all the benefits of walking kids to school and I realized that it is kind of crazy that I put myself through driving them everywhere.  Now driving seems like a chore and walking the more convenient  and awesome option.  The kids really put up a fuss at first too.  But one day, a couple of weeks ago, they stopped making a fuss and just the other day, my daughter saw a new advantage to walking to school.  She can now do it on her own and she gets extra independence and time with her friends thrown into her day.

Now that I am walking everywhere I seem to have more time. More time to wonder why that house down the street has three doorbells but only one door, more time to talk to my kids and more time to notice the building the same day it gets torn down, not just the empty lot a year later.

Check out Lezlie Lowe's great documentary: Walk the Talk.